Vellai Paniyaram: A Delicious Anytime Snack From The Chettinad Region In Tamil Nadu

A Chettiar wedding in Tamil Nadu’s Chettinad region is truly a gourmand’s delight. Sandwiched in the arid belt between Pudukottai and Ramanathapuram are the 70 odd villages and towns that make up Chettinad almost every street has a fascinating tale and almost every kitchen can dish up delicious meals. It’s the weddings that bring out the best of Chettinad cuisine. The region’s cuisine which is still largely a preserve of local cooks is put under the spotlight over days of food binging. It was at one of these weddings that I first sampled the scrumptious Vellai Paniyaram.

More recently I checked this unique dish at Vaadhyar’s House in Kannadukathan, a heritage home that has morphed into a chic café that is managed by The Park Hotels. The locals used to refer to this heritage home as Vaadhyar Veedu (or Teacher’s house; this has been home to generations of teachers). The name stuck; this café blends and exudes a contemporary vibe with a strong influence of traditional Chettinad architecture.

Are Vellai Paniyaram And Idli Same?

It might resemble an idli (Vellai is Tamil for white) from afar or in blurry food pictures but the vellai paniyaram is not quite the same. It starts with the same prep that combines rice and urad dal but it’s the milk that is added after the batter settles and the final step (when these splodges are deep fried). It’s the light and crispy texture that sets this snack apart. It’s usually served with chutney (see recipe) and works equally well for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.

Also Read: How To Make South Indian-Style Egg Paniyaram For A Quick Breakfast

Vellai Paniyaram Recipe | How To Make Vellai Paniyaram

Recipe courtesy – Vaadhyar’s House


  • 1 cup Raw rice, soaked for 2 hours
  • 2 tablespoons black urad dal (Whole), soaked for 2 hours
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil – for deep frying


  1. For the Vellai Paniyaram batter, wash and soak the raw rice and urad dal in water for 2 hours.
  2. Grind both ingredients to a very smooth mixture in a mixer grinder.
  3. Add only just enough water for it to grind, do not make it watery. Ensure the batter as thick as possible. This is the key step, this dish depends on the consistency of the batter (ideally thinner than dosa batter)
  4. Add sugar and salt to the batter, and let it rest for another hour.
  5. Heat oil in a kadai/ frying pan for deep frying.
  6. Mix the batter well. Add milk to make it watery at this stage.
  7. Drop one tablespoon full of batter into the Kadai. It will rise and puff up. Once the Vellai paniyaram is cooked on one side, flip it and let it fry for a couple of seconds.
  8. Transfer the hot Vellai Paniyaram onto a kitchen towel. Pat the Vellai Paniyaram with an oil absorbent paper to remove excess oil and serve hot!

Inji (ginger ) Chutney

Recipe courtesy – Vaadhyar’s House


  • 1/2 cup Ginger peeled and chopped. (1 Cup – 250ml)
  • 1 tbsp Urad Dal
  • 1 tbsp Split Bengal Gram or Channa Dal
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
  • 4 Red chillies – add as per desired spice requirement
  • 4 Kashmiri Red chillies (optional). Can be replaced with 2 red chillies
  • 1 lemon-size tamarind
  • 1 tbsp Grated jaggery
  • 4 tsp Sesame oil


  • 1 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves


  1. Take the lemon-sized tamarind in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of hot water and set it aside for 10 mins.
  2. Wash the ginger thoroughly and peel the skin. Roughly chop the ginger and set it aside.


  1. Heat 2 tsp of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. When the oil is hot, add the Channa dal, urad dal, fenugreek seeds, red chilli and Kashmiri red chilli.
  2. Fry the ingredients till the dal turns light golden colour. Add these ingredients to a mixer jar.
  3. In the same pan, add 2 teaspoons of oil. When the oil is hot, add the roughly chopped ginger.
  4. Sauté the ginger till golden brown. Add to the mixer jar. Allow the ingredients to cool off.

For grinding:

  1. To the mixer jar, add the soaked tamarind along with the water.
  2. Also, add the grated jaggery to this mixture.
  3. Finally, add salt to taste.
  4. Grind the mixture to a smooth, but thick paste. Add a few tablespoons of water while grinding only if required.

For tempering

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and allow it to sputter.
  2. Then add the curry leaves and add it to the pan. Mix once. Switch off the flame.
  3. Add this tempering to the chutney. Mix well

Also Read: 7 Best South Indian Snacks Recipes: Banana Chips, Lukhmi and More

Coconut Chutney | Thengai Chutney

Recipe courtesy – Vaadhyar’s House


  • 1 Cup grated coconut
  • 2 Tbsp roasted gram dal (Pottukadalai)
  • 3 Green chillies
  • Salt – to taste
  • 1/4 tsp Tamarind paste
  • For tempering
  • 2 tsp Coconut oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp Split urad dal
  • Curry leaves
  • 2 Red chillies


  1. Take grated coconut, green chilli, salt, tamarind paste, roasted gram and add it to a mixer jar and grind all ingredients to a smooth paste.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and allow it to splutter.
  3. Add split urad dal and sauté till the dal turns light brown. Then add curry leaves and halved red chillies. Switch off the flame.
  4. Add this tempering to the Coconut Chutney and finish.

About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie – a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.

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